Episode 3: A Little Oil Here, an Expensive Barrel There


I’m on a walking team at work. I know, I know, how much difference can WALKING make? Get on a treadmill already. But for many people working in an office, taking walks is a huge change to their exercise regimen. Up until yesterday, I was the sucky (a.k.a. LAZY) member of the team, but all the blame (of course) goes to the toe as I survived a cortisone shot on Monday and was forced to take it easy for a few days. However, I made up for it running many miles in my soccer game last night.

So back to the walking team: it’s a unique team. It’s with a bunch of IT coworkers so nobody’s surprised that they’re unique are we? We walked twice around our building and if you’ll recall from last week’s episode about the sexist vending machine, that’s a lot of walking. Good thing I was wearing comfortable shoes. As we were returning to the building, they started rambling on about the cost of gas and immediately placed the blame on President Bush. I mentioned briefly that our politics in the Middle East also played into it, but chose not to voice any more of my opinion. (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I didn’t really say ANYTHING. Let’s just say the choice to avoid politics at work happened after a coworker attempted to ridicule my religious beliefs—NOT COOL. I decided to avoid both political and religious conversations.)

Interestingly enough there was an email from another coworker in my inbox this morning about the oil crisis. It was a lengthy list of ways Congress has managed our oil. After verifying the list (by checking with Glenn Beck, of course), I post it here for you because we like lists on this blog:

  • Congress dictated to the oil companies that ANWR was off limits.
  • Congress dictated to the oil companies that drilling off the coast of Florida and California was off limits.
  • Congress dictated to the oil companies that there wouldn’t be any new leases for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico while China, Venezuela, and even Cuba pursued these, signing 100-year leases on them.
  • Congress has promised, as well as ALL three Presidential candidates, to introduce and pass in the next term a Cap and Trade legislation bill that will increase the price of gasoline at least another $1.50 per gallon according to EPA. This could potentially go as high as an additional $5 per gallon. (Not related to oil, but get a kick out of Glenn Beck’s discussion with Stu about Cap and Trade.)
  • Congress has said that it’s going to shut down the oil fields in Colorado.
  • Congress has said that it won’t allow development of the shale oil fields in several western states.
  • Congress just passed legislation that will allow lawsuits against OPEC, even though OPEC will likely retaliate against the U.S. if any are brought against them.
  • Congress has allowed environmental attorneys to sue the oil companies for “future possible destruction” of Alaskan Eskimo villages; yes, that’s right—they can sue for something that hasn’t even happened, the same tactic used so successfully against the tobacco companies.
  • The Polar Bear has been placed on the endangered species list; their habitat is the same part of the world where the U.S. has huge reserves of oil and the bears’ population has been increasing for the last 30 years with no current evidence to prove that they are endangered by possible drilling or oil exploration. Environmental groups are already suing the government to prohibit exploration in polar bear habitat areas.
  • Congress dictated, through policies, that oil companies could not build new refineries over the last 30 years and the number of operational refineries has decreased by half since 1982.
  • Our government has put in place numerous laws and policies allowing environmental attorneys to scare the nuclear and hydroelectric industries out of building new plants or dams—these are oil’s potential competitors.
  • Congress has refused to fund or allow the deployment of coal-to-oil technology which has been around since the 1930s.
  • Congress has dictated that oil companies make different blends of gasoline with states like California dictating which unique blends they must make for them.
  • Congress will not reduce the Federal Gasoline tax nor even consider reducing it for the summer months.

Okay, I’m done; now feel free to tell me about big, bad oil. There’s no decent debate without at least one other side represented and I don’t want to have to do it myself.



  1. The way capitalism has been used in this country has made us spoiled and helpless; largely unable to do for ourselves. Demanding to be treated like royalty. “What did the government do with my oil?! I want my oil, I want it cheap and I want it NOW! Thanks goodness the era of cheap oil is coming to a close. Now maybe we’ll learn how to design cities and walk from one place to another instead of around in circles or in one place. Maybe we’ll even rediscover what community is. Then maybe we won’t need to take so much prozac and shop to make it seem like everything is ok.


  2. Whoa there, Joseph, back up to the start of your comment… “the way capitalism has been used in this country…” It’s not because of capitalism that oil prices are where they are now, it’s because of the government. If they got out of the way, we’d be back to $8 a barrel and $.95 a gallon when the oil companies were merging to stay in business. Would you rather the oil companies are socialized? Are you a believer in Maxine Waters’ “threat” to do this? (YouTube Video)
    Your comment made it sound like people are expecting the government to fix oil problems. People like Waters are expecting this, yes, but then there are other people who realize that the problem IS the government and if Washington would get out of the way and let capitalism take over, we could actually tap into the oil industry that exists here and can provide affordable solutions.


  3. My point was that whether we’re looking for the government to do something or do less we’re still dependent, and that is pathetic. I would add that that dependency came about because of capitalistic forces in business colluding with government to make it happen. The government vs. capitalism thing is a false dichotomy. For example, the reason we have suburbia is because car companies agreed with government to zone cities so that our homes, workplaces, entertainment and shopping destinations were spaced apart so that we would need to buy cars to survive. That happened while they were squeezing out small farmers with government regulations that favor agribusiness so we would have to shop for our everyday needs. When they got control of that they imposed primitive nutritional science in to a food pyramid and “fortified” garbage that favors foods that keep us in the hospitals, etc. and all the while through the media and PR kept us in line by telling us each step was the cool modern thing to do. It’ s not the government or the free market that’s the problem, it’s the government AND the free market, but the market isn’t free. It’s slanted toward the huge and huger by those with enough pull to slant it in their favor with government help. And the Glenn Becks of the world keep feeding us the false dichotomy because advertisers (big business) are feeding his family. That’s a large part of the reason we are in this situation with gas prices. They can get away with whatever they want because we let them and we let them because over time they have manufactured our consent with PR and made us into good little consumers who care more about what’s in style than what’s right, while conning us into thinking we’re in the know with spoon fed opinions from radio personalities. Yeah, I know, ‘whoa there’, but it’s true.


  4. Yeah, we have suburbia so that we buy cars, not because that’s where people choose to live by purchasing their property there. Americans don’t choose to live away from work and buy cars much bigger than their European counterparts. The government and corporations have forced us to be like this, right?
    I forgot that Glenn Beck was owned. I can’t believe a word he says.
    Ben Stein’s “owned,” too so what he says can’t be true either. Like what he said in his fairly recent article in the NY Times explaining that the reason we’re in this current oil crisis doesn’t have to do as much with big corporations as it does with the dependency we have on other nations. We import 2/3rds of our oil and much of it comes from “countries that are either unstable (Nigeria) or whose leaders or people dislike us (Venezuela, Saudi Arabia).” But Ben’s got money in his pocket from big business so I can’t really believe him either. We’re so corrupt.


  5. I’m not sure where the sarcasm ends in your response but I’ll try anyway. Suburbia as a concept was invented by car companies. Government helped by making it illegal to have workplaces and housing close to one another. It’s still that way for the most part. Nobody forced anybody at gunpoint (secrecy gives them more power), but they manufactured our consent in a couple ways. They got rid of most other options and used PR to make it uncool to choose otherwise. Business and government take a much longer view of things than the average person does. They also make sure we take a very narrow view and are mostly self-interested and preoccupied with entertainment so we don’t see their machinations over time, don’t vote much or get involved in politics, etc. Many LDS consider secret combinations to be a matter of the government taking over, making us socialist, etc. This came out of cold war hysteria and the real threat was of a communist country taking over our government. That may have been, and may be, but the predominant secret combination now is consumerism. The promise of industry to deliver a convenient life cheaply, whatever the true cost. By participating we uphold secret combinations, which the scriptures forbid. One example is in the Word of Wisdom where we’re warned that conspiring men will tempt us to (in addition to drink and smoke) eat meat year-round and produce out of season – and thus lose the spiritual blessings detailed there. Is where we get our oil really an issue to big business? Why would what that guy said conflict with his being owned?


  6. I have never before heard your suggestion that the car companies invented suburbia. Clearly, anyone can say whatever they want in comments and there’s no proof that it’s true. Obviously, I can say anything that I want on this blog and for all you know, I’m owned by some propoganda engine and I’m going to tell you to eat meat all year long.
    Also, your link only really proves that ABC or MSNBC wanted to air extremely patriotic news only, as the nation was immersed in patriotic fervor at the time. They just want ratings. If you’re going to make an assumption that they were trying to portray the Bush administration in a positive light, that sure is a complete opposite of what they currently do.
    I have no reason to believe the anybody owns Glenn Beck.


  7. I guess the principle is “follow the money”. Does anyone own Glenn Beck in the sense that they force him to say things he doesn’t want to? Perhaps so, perhaps not, but he’s in his position likely because he is corporate friendly and he’s willing to belittle those that aren’t in what certain people consider to be an entertaining way. Owned can mean led to believe something or edited and pressured into publishing something. Glenn Beck is as likely a product of a multi-generational family attitude as direct pressure. My point is that societal and family attitudes formed over a century are just as calculated/engineered/bankrolled as 30-second commercials. The beauty of the former is that it produces passionate spokesmen a generation later, like Glenn Beck or some Mormons who suspect their own gospel when it diverges from their politics. What my link shows is that the liberal media idea is a myth.


  8. I just heard Glenn Beck say something I thought I’d never hear him say. Quote: “The government is in bed with global business”. 6-5-2008 4:42pm MST

    He said this after a discussion of why he hesitated to show on the air/post on his website, gory pictures of atrocities at the US/Mexico border citing CNN “standards and practices” along with the fact that he himself is conflicted about whether to do it. He defended CNN by saying the weren’t censoring him – so why is he considering censoring himself? He, like CNN is worried about ticking off global business i.e. advertisers who are (according to him) in bed with the government who he constantly demonizes. It’s getting clearer…


  9. Joseph, what does any of this really have to do with the price of oil? I keep hearing you talk about how the Free Market System “a.k.a. Big Business” is in bed with Government and that we are all spoonfed what they want us to believe. What you keep failing to do is to actually make a real connection between the two in this case. If Big Oil were in bed with Government, then they would already be drilling in ANWR: have new leases in the Gulf of Mexico; Have built a dozen new/efficient refineries; AND still have Oil at $4.00 per gallon nationwide. That way their production costs would be very inexpensive, and their margines huge. This just isn’t the case. The FACT that Oil Companies have been stymied by Congress for the past forty years just proves your theory wrong in this case. You speak about “dichotomy” yet in this case there truly is a dichotomy involving Government and Oil. They are not the same thing in this instance.

    Now, me personally, I believe that the spike in the price of oil currently is almost entirely because of hyper-inflated trading on the Oil Commodities Market. Yup, that is one of those Free Market, “Capitalistic Forces” that you like to rant about. I’ll be happy to debate it with you if you’d like (careful, you’ll lose!).
    Please back up some of your statements with either specific examples, or I’ll even accept rational deduction based upon generally accepted ideas. But, I won’t keep letting you make unsubtantiated claims without providing either specific details or intelligent/informed logic.


  10. Hmm, thanks for your generous itemization of what you will and won’t accept from me or let me say. Who needs big government when we’ve got people like you? Why would Governmentbigbusiness want to drill domestically if doing so would increase supply? Maybe you should ask Glenn Beck to back up his assertion about the connection. I don’t know what you would accept as a real connection (maybe nothing?) but here goes anyway. American cities were zoned purposefully through “collaboration” between the two so people would need cars. The public school system was conceived by industrialists to manufacture docile workers and unengaged citizens (who readily believe that government can’t do anything right…except train and equip the best military on the planet) The entire military industrial complex. Expiration dates on things like baby car seats amount to government enforcement of the capitalist doctrine of planned/perceived obsolescence while feeding sales. Government regulations that favor industrial-scale food production by making the threshold to entrance a million-dollar plant instead of a family-sized start-up. The government making or changing laws that allow corporations to patent seeds so that they can then sue family farmers who get caught with plants from said seeds growing on their land after they were blown there by the wind and by so doing bankrupt them. The FDA helping rush poorly researched drugs to market. The two highest-rated news organizations putting personalities on the air claiming they are not the mainstream media and that they are there to protect you from them while perpetuating the government vs. free enterprise myth and convincing people they’re getting the real story while the truth lies in the examples cited here. The passing of laws allowing radio and entertainment outlets to be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The confiscation of viable electric cars from their leasees by the manufacturer after the manufacturer successfully lobbied a state government to overrule the legislation that raised emission standards and made the electric cars necessary. The awarding of no-bid contracts to 4 oil giants to go to work in Iraq even though the war supposedly had nothing to do with oil (as reported today). The passing of legislation banning midwifery so women are forced to have babies in hospitals. That’s all I can think of at the moment. I guess you win.


  11. It’s easy to make a list of how the government is out to get you, along with big business. But just because you type it up as a comment here doesn’t back it up with any credibility.


  12. I suppose I should cite something from the media like Glenn Beck does? It’s sort of a catch 22, don’t you think? I mean the NY Times broke the Michelle Obama image makeover story that Hannitylimbaughbecko’reilly have been using all day. Did they magically stop being the liberal media or are the definitions changeable/self-serving? Honestly, your response is pretty weak and all-purpose. Is there something specific you would like to challenge? Otherwise, what would you like me to back them up with, that you would consider credible that you wouldn’t reject as coming from an untrustworthy source, regardless of the source? Let me know and I’ll do my best to satisfy you. On the other hand if you lack the good faith to ever consider an honest and valid opinion different than the one you already have you may as well tell me that now. It’s not like the scorn and ridicule Beck uses constitutes sound argumentation either. PR and marketing people learned long ago that attitude & emotion are all it takes to win people over so they’ll tune in and hear all the commercials. Oh, and we can’t forget the offer of “insider” status. Anyway, let me know what kind of credibility you’re looking for.


  13. Salty Bill asked for you to back up your statements. I asked. And you’re still playing the politician here and not actually providing anything but more questions and continuing to disparage your “enemies” in the media.
    You can’t give us anything because you don’t have it.


  14. Wait a minute. Salty Bill hasn’t responded to the examples I supplied at his request, so how do you know he would find them inadequate? Even though I asked YOU directly what you find inadequate about them or what you would consider sufficient “backing up” you haven’t answered. How can you then accuse me of dodging the issue? Again, if you don’t like my examples 1) what specifically is wrong with them and 2) what kind of substantiation would you accept?


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